Is thinning an alternative when trees could die in response to drought? The case of planted Pinus nigra and P. Sylvestris stands in southern Spain
Publication date: 15 February 2019
Source: Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 433
Author(s): Rafael M. Navarro-Cerrillo, Raúl Sánchez-Salguero, Carlos Rodriguez, Joaquín Duque Lazo, José M. Moreno-Rojas, Guillermo Palacios-Rodriguez, J. Julio Camarero
Previous research has provided insights into the potential response of growth and water use efficiency to thinning in Mediterranean forests, but little is known about the potential benefits of silviculture for plantations under severe drought stress. We selected two stands of Pinus sylvestris L. and P. nigra Arnold., and used dendrochronology and carbon isotopes (δ13C) to understand the growth and functional responses of high-density planted pine forests to thinning in drought-prone areas. Resistance, recovery, and resilience indices were calculated for each species using BAI data. We expected heavy thinning to produce stands that were more resilient to drought, particularly for the more drought-tolerant P. nigra. Differences in the basal area increments (BAI) and intrinsic water-use efficiency (iWUE) were found between the unthinned stand and the thinned stands, for both species. After thinning, BAI decreased as iWUE increased but this relationship was only marginally significant in P. sylvestris. Thinning increased growth resistance, recovery, and resilience following the severe drought of 2012. Our findings suggest that water shortage, linked to recurrent droughts, together with high tree competition, negatively affected tree growth and increased iWUE, which explains the dieback of some of these pine plantations. We evidence the vulnerability of densely planted Mediterranean pines to the forecasted warmer and drier conditions. These results show that a heavy thinning treatment (60% of basal area removed) provides a promising silvicultural framework for the adaptation of these drought-sensitive Mediterranean mountain pine forests to the potential risks of climate change.
via ScienceDirect Publication: Forest Ecology and Management https://ift.tt/2zaqiu8